BOZEMAN — Outdoor equipment has been flying off the shelves since the COVID-19 pandemic started earlier this spring. So this is what local businesses are doing to prepare for the Labor Day rush.
“The interest in being outside has definitely peaked,” said Marina Merkel, manager at Round House Ski and Sports in Bozeman.
Peaked is one way of putting it. But Round House says they expect to see continued business. Especially with the Labor Day weekend in near sight.
“People are staying local, they’re getting outside in Montana, they’re taking road trips, they’re not necessarily flying somewhere, going to the beach or going to the big city. They’re staying and enjoying the great state that we have,” said Merkel.
While many big-box stores have empty shelves in the area and are struggling to keep up with inventory, smaller businesses we visited said they’re doing fine and ready for customers looking for Labor Day adventure.
One of the biggest sellers in the area this year: mountain bikes for people of all ages.
“We were fortunate. We took all of our bikes from our vendors last December, and they were sitting in storage before everything hit. We already had them on the ground here,”
At Fins & Feathers in Four Corners, staff says the focus has been on retail this season during the pandemic, and they've been working with distributors to keep up on that high demand.
“A lot of people are buying beginner kits. Getting their new rods, their first rods, or they’re getting that next upgrade that they wanted,” said Nick Bacon, a shop employee at Fins & Feathers.
Round House says they’ve been able to avoid empty shelves because they’re usually buying things out a year in advance.
But come next year if you’re looking for a bike around Labor Day weekend, that could be a different story.
“The production from China, some of the parts, even if a bike is primarily made in the US, there might be some parts or components, small little things, that just hold up the entire process,” said Merkel.
“Also coupled with increased demand, it’s been really really challenging.”
Merkel said the shop is not too worried about the supply and production of skis because most of them come from Europe.